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Gloucestershire Business News

No rent reductions to help businesses at Gloucestershire Airport

Companies struggling with cashflow based at Gloucestershire Airport have been told there will be no flexibility in their rents during the current coronavirus crisis.

Punchline was calling round companies asking how the Government package of measures was helping them and how they were faring when they came across the Staverton businesses.

According to companies they had contacted their landlord, the local authority-owned Gloucstershire Airport, to discuss rent reductions for the period of the outbreak or holidays, but been told this would not happen.

"I still have to pay my staff for work done - you have to do that - and so have a major wage bill coming out in the next few days, but the business has closed as a result of the pandemic and is being furloughed for the foreseeable," said one businessman, who did not want to be named.

"I approached the airport to discuss not a rent holiday, but to see if we could renegotiate terms which would allow for a reduced rent for a period, then catching back up by the end of the year, and was told 'no'.

A statement from Gloucestershire Airport said: "A number of our tenants have approached us asking for a rent holiday or rent reduction. This is not something we are able to agree at present but, as we work through the newly announced Government legislation we will pass on whatever we learn to our tenants.

"Indeed, we have already shared the advice we have received to date with many of our tenants.

"Further, like all businesses, our tenants should be able to take advantage of other support mechanisms put in place by the Government such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank.

"Details of which can be found on the following link. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses. "

A page on the Government website called 'Extra protection for businesses with ban on evictions for commercial tenants who miss rent payments ', says: "Commercial tenants who cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus will be protected from eviction.

"Many landlords and tenants are already having conversations and reaching voluntary arrangements about rental payments due shortly but the government recognises businesses struggling with their cashflow due to coronavirus remain worried about eviction."

Measures to help were introduced in the Coronavirus Bill.

"As commercial tenants will still be liable for the rent after this period, the government is also actively monitoring the impact on commercial landlords' cash flow and continues to be in dialogue with them," says the website.

Communities Secretary, Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP, said: "We know many commercial landlords are already setting a great example by working closely with tenants and offering rent deferrals or holidays.

"However, these new measures will provide reassurance to businesses struggling with cashflows and ensure no commercial tenant is evicted if they cannot pay their rent because of coronavirus over the next three months."

Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses national chairman, said: "We know sensible conversations between landlords and commercial tenants are taking place - but having this legislative backstop to prevent evictions during the worst of the crisis will provide much needed peace of mind for many small businesses."

Gloucestershire Airport operates as a standalone company, but is owned by Gloucester City Council and Cheltenham Borough Councils.

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